Sunday, September 27, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for September 27, 2020 - Presiders: Donna Panaro, ARCWP, and Dave Debonis


photo by Helena Lopez on Unsplash


Welcome and Theme

Welcome! This morning we will begin with an anointing of our brother Dennis as he prepares to have surgery tomorrow. It is right and faithful to anoint our brother because we are all companions in this journey of life. Our liturgy today will highlight this theme. The kindom is created here and now if we but live what we say we believe.

Anointing Song

Berakah, the Blessing by Jan Novotka.


Dave: We will now anoint Dennis as he prepares for his healing journey. 

DonnaBlessed are you, Loving Spirit, the boundless love of Your presence blesses us at every moment of our lives.

Your compassion radiates through each of us and brings the blessing of Your healing, tender touch to Dennis.

Kim:  As we pray for you, Dennis, we pray also for your medical team. May they be guided by Holy Wisdom.

Deven: Dennis, the same Spirit that moved in Jesus, dwells in you and fills you with love and peace beyond all imagination. All of your loved ones in this community and in the Communion of the Saints join you in prayer.

Mary T:  In their name and in the name of the Holy One, we now anoint you, dear Dennis for your journey. 

 All extend hands toward Dennis. Jeanne anoints Dennis’s forehead and hands as the following is read:

Dave: May the power of Divine Love within you, heal, comfort, and strengthen you. Amen.

Prayer for Presentation of Prayer Shawl: Margaret Dilgen: 

Dear Dennis,

The Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community presents you with this prayer shawl and we pray: 

O loving one, renew Dennis this day in your love.

Grant him life as a gift of your faithfulness.

Grant him light to journey by,

Grant him hope to sustain himself.

May this mantle be for Dennis a sign of your healing presence.

May it warm him when he is weary.

May it surround him with ease of his suffering.

Dennis, receive this shawl.

Curl it around you,

Close it over you,

And enter into

The warm peaceful quiet stillness of God's love.




Joan: First Reading

Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:

“What do you think? There was a landowner who had two children. The landowner approached the elder and said, ‘My child, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ This first child replied, ’No, I won’t,’ but afterwards regretted it and went. The landowner then came to the second child and said the same thing. The second child said in reply, ‘I’m on my way,’ but never went. Which of the two did what was wanted?” 

They said, “The first”

Jesus said to them, “The truth is, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came walking on the road of justice, you didn’t believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you didn’t repent and believe.

These are the inspired words from the gospel of Matthew and the community affirms them by saying: Amen

Tim: Second Reading


Philippians 2:1-11

If our life in Christ means anything to you-if love, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness or sympathy can persuade you all—then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing that would make me completely happy. There must be no competition among you, no conceit, but everybody is to be humble: value others over yourselves, each of you thinking of the interest of others before your own. Your attitude must me the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Christ, though in the image of God, didn’t deem equality with God something to be clung to— but instead became completely empty and took on the image of oppressed humankind: born into the human condition, found in the likeness of a human being. Jesus was thus humbled— obediently accepting death, even death on a cross!  Because of this, God highly exalted Christ and gave to Jesus the name above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God: Jesus Christ reigns supreme!

These are the inspired words from Paul’s letter to the Philippians and the community affirms them by saying: Amen

Dennis: Gospel Acclamation


Margaret: The Third Reading 

The early church taught that paradise was a place, a way of life, even an ecosystem. The church, as a community that dispensed the “medicine of life,” nourished human life in paradise. This was a place where strengths, weaknesses, needs, and contributions of each member could complement each other. Their life in paradise was a shared accomplishment in which the exercise of human powers and the imperatives of human need worked together to save and sustain life. People could come to see the value of their own lives and learn that their actions mattered to others, to see power in a personal sense of agency. They could learn to negotiate power and its responsible use for the good of the whole. Heavy burdens and difficulties that might have crushed individuals could instead be borne on the shoulders of many.  

Christians were instructed to be the earthly manifestation of God. Like Jesus, they were to become fully human and fully divine. A Jewish peasant carpenter and teacher had revealed God, and he had left the Holy Spirit with his community. Christians shared a power that nothing could destroy, a power that affirmed the freedom and dignity of humanity and grounded their work for justice; they did not await the arrival of justice. The church offered marginalized and privileged people alike the power of divinity and supported them to live together as gods in paradise here and now. 

These are the inspired words adapted from Saving Paradise by Rita Brock and Rebecca Parker and the community affirms them by saying AMEN.

Shared Homily

The gospel reading is one that has been described by scholars as perplexing, partly because Jesus does not answer the question that is posed re: which son was the more favored. Also, scholars have expressed doubts that this story was actually told by Jesus. Nonetheless, there does seem to be some agreement that the story is intended to highlight the importance of having our words match the actions we take.  Jesus’ reminder to the chief priests and elders that the tax collectors and prostitutes would have an easier time reaching the kingdom suggest that he is not impressed with those who say the right things. Instead, fulfillment comes to those who believe and act on those beliefs. Donna and I, in discussing this reading, agreed that when there is congruence between what we say and how we act, we experience an inner peace as we live out our true selves. 

If the gospel is about moving beyond words into actions, the two readings that follow are about the nature of those actions. Notice that Paul, who is writing to the Philippians from prison, asks them to be united in their conviction to a common purpose. He asks them to avoid ego and competition, both of which would detract from the important work that must be done. He encourages them to stand with the oppressed, embrace the human condition, as Jesus did, and remain united in love.  And the reading from Brock and Parker confirms that members of the early church did live this way because they knew that paradise was not some far off distant hope that would have to be earned if only they could be good enough, but rather it was right there in front of them--mother earth. The authors also note that members of the early church did not await justice; they worked bravely for it as a way to protect paradise and make it a reality for all. That paradise still is right here in front of us and still needs us to protect it and extend its reach.

In all honesty, it can be more than difficult to see the world, in its present state, as paradise. Literal storms rage with hurricanes in the south and wildfires in west.  And different kinds of storms sweep across the nation -one of racial inequality and prejudice and another that continues to threaten our health and well-being.  But now more than ever we cannot lose our conviction. Now more than ever we need to, as Paul asks us, take on Jesus’ attitude in humbly valuing others in order to remain true to the gospel message and to the paradise that we have been gifted. 

Finally, as I was reading the description of the early church members and how they lived out their faith, I was reminded of this community. We are clearly being guided by the Spirit and although these times are challenging, we are not doing this alone; we have each other and the spirit and together we will continue to do what we can to sustain our brothers and sisters and our world.  

Statement of Faith

We believe in the Holy One, a divine mystery
beyond all definition and rational understanding,
the heart of all that has ever existed,
that exists now, or that ever will exist.

We believe in Jesus, messenger of the Divine Word,
bringer of healing, heart of Divine compassion,
bright star in the firmament of the Holy One's
prophets, mystics, and saints.

 We believe that We are called to follow Jesus
as a vehicle of divine love,
a source of wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of peace in the world.

We believe in the Spirit of the Holy One,
the life that is our innermost life,
the breath moving in our being,
the depth living in each of us.

We believe that the Divine kin-dom is here and now,
stretched out all around us for those
with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it,
and hands to make it happen.

Dave:  As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring to the table our prayer of intentions:

 Dave: We pray for these and all unspoken intentions. Amen. 

Donna: With open hearts and hands let us pray our Eucharistic prayer in one voice:

O Holy One, you are always with us. In the blessed abundance of creation, we gather to celebrate Your nourishing gift of life. May our hearts be open as You invite us to participate in the wise and wonderful work of co-creation. May we be ever aware of Your Spirit within and among us as our world unfolds amid pain and beauty into the fullness of life. 

We are grateful for Your Spirit whose breath inspired the primal waters, calling into being the variety and abundance we see around us. Your Spirit sustains and animates our every endeavor, inviting us to act in wisdom and in truth.

In gratitude and joy we embrace our calling and we lift our voices to proclaim a song of praise:

Here in this Place

  As a community, we gather in the power of your Spirit, refreshing wind, purifying fire and flowing water, for the variety and diversity of Creation. We seek to live as Jesus taught us, wise and holy as Spirit-filled people, courageous and prophetic, ever obedient to your call.

 Please extend your hands in blessing.

We invoke Your Spirit upon the gifts of this Eucharistic table, bread of the grain and wine of the grape, that they may become gifts of wisdom, light and truth which remind us of our call to be the body of Christ to the world.

On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at the Seder supper with his companions and friends.  He reminded them of all that he taught them, and to fix that memory clearly with them, he bent down and washed their feet. When he returned to his place, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and offered it to them saying:

All lift their plate as the community prays the following: 

Take this bread and eat it;

This is my very self.

 (consume bread and pause)

All lift their cup as community prays the following: 

Donna: Jesus then raised a cup of blessing, spoke the grace and offered the wine saying:

Take and drink of the covenant

Made new again through my life in you.

Whenever you remember me like this,

I am among you.

(drink and pause)  

In union with all peoples living and dead, we unite our thoughts and prayers, asking wisdom to discern more wisely your call to us in the circumstances of our daily lives. 

We seek to act justly and courageously in confronting the suffering that desecrates the Earth and its peoples; to take risks in being proactive on behalf of the marginalized who suffer the environmental injustices of fouled air, tainted water, and a poverty of parks and public spaces that bring people together to enjoy nature. We pray for inspiration to act with the harmony and unity and synthesis that is modeled for us by the trees of the forest, and the stars of the evening.

Holy One, your transforming energy is always moving within us and working through us. Like Jesus, we will open up wide all that has been closed about us, and we will live compassionate lives,

for it is through living as Jesus lived, that we awaken to your Spirit within,

Moving us to glorify You, O Holy One,

At this time and all ways.


Dave: Let us pray as Jesus taught us with an eye toward this Season of Creation:

Generous Creator, the intricate and elegant biodiversity of our world is your hallowed autograph on our lives, on our souls and in our hearts. 

We yearn for the wholeness of being in harmony with Your will and with all living things. 

Each day we draw on your creative, life-giving energy with gratitude and awe as we find nourishment in, seed and field, river and forest. 

May we be stewards and co-creators with you in caring for the gifts of Your Creation.  

We acknowledge our shortcomings, especially our neglect of the environment on this Creation Sunday. We seek to be reconciled with those we have hurt and we resolve to do better.  

With your unfailing wisdom and the wind of Your Spirit, inspire us that we may reach out and love one another and care for the world, our home.

Strengthen us to work for local and global justice so that we may one day reap a harvest of equality and fairness as if they were wildflowers, propagating spontaneously, unerringly and in surprising abundance. Amen.

Donna: We are called to live the Gospel of Creation in harmony and gratitude with all our sisters and brothers across the Earth. We will live justly, love tenderly and walk with integrity in Your Presence.

Communion song: The Voice by Celtic Woman

Donna: Let us pray together our closing blessing:

Creator most generous and kind, your gift of Earth and sky reveals your omnipotence and glory. May we go forward boldly to live in the glory. 

May we treat all of Creation as sacred and discern the best path to an equitable distribution of the resources we share with our sisters and brothers across the globe. Let us live as if the future depends on it. Amen. 

Closing Song: 

Go Light Your World

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